Howard Gap Road assessment coming soon

Published 11:23 pm Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Collapsed road has been closed since January

SALUDA—A section of Howard Gap Road between Tryon and Saluda has been closed since the end of January, but the North Carolina Department of Transportation plans to do an assessment soon. 

State engineers outlined a plan to rebuild the road in the spring. NCDOT communications director David Uchiyama said last week the assessment is planned for the fall. 

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Meanwhile, residents have been questioning when the road will be repaired as some residents have long detours around the section of road. The road is literally crumbling in one section near Saluda and is completely impassable. 

A team of engineers and geologists assessed the damage to Howard Gap as well as the mountain below Interstate 26 in March of this year. 

Engineers determined that a combination of factors, including the 50-year-old drainage system, record rainfall during the last year and pervious soil conditions contributed to the damage to Howard Gap. 

The state plans to repair or replace the entire surface and subsurface drainage system for the Saluda grade section of Interstate 26 and Howard Gap Road, as well as the surface drainage for a section of Interstate 26 near Indian Gap. A retaining wall anchored into rock would increase stability of the rebuilt Howard Gap Road, according to the NCDOT. 

An exact date of construction to rebuild the section of Howard Gap Road has not yet been determined. 

Most of the damage occurred during torrential rains in May 2018 and more damage coming last January. The Tryon area received 88.14 inches of rain during 2018, which was 26 inches more than normal. It was not a record year, but was one of the wettest on record, according to the National Weather Service.